Abu Dhabi’s film industry embarks on a new era


07 May 2015

The Media Zone Authority will focus on new initiatives to further support local and Arab films and filmmakers while attracting more international film productions to the region MZA will continue to support Arab filmmakers through SANAD Fund

  • The Media Zone Authority will focus on new initiatives to further support local and Arab films and filmmakers while attracting more international film productions to the region MZA will continue to support Arab filmmakers through SANAD Fund
  • Move will further strengthen Abu Dhabi’s position as the regional hub for creativity and innovation

In a refocusing of its film activities to reflect the rapid growth in the region, the Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi has announced that the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) is being brought to a close to in order to focus on future targeted initiatives to further support local and Arab filmmakers and attract more film productions to Abu Dhabi in the region. The move marks the next phase in the Capital’s maturing film industry.

The Media Zone Authority will continue its efforts in supporting Emirati and Arab filmmakers through the “SANAD” Fund, which provides financial support for film projects during their development and post-production stages. The Fund enables filmmakers to develop and complete feature narrative or documentary films. Details of the next session of submissions for SANAD will be announced soon. Additionally, twofour54’s creative lab will continue its role in supporting local talent in the UAE.

Going forward, the Media Zone Authority will focus on promoting Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a regional hub for film and TV productions through Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s 30 percent cash-back rebate on all qualifying spend of films and projects shot in Abu Dhabi.

Noura Al Kaabi, CEO of the Media Zone Authority, said: “Over the last few years we have built a strong foundation for a self-sustaining film and television industry.  It is now the right time to deepen our commitment and further develop programmes to take the local industry to the next level. We attracted several major international and regional productions to shoot in the Emirate over the past two years alone, which brought large-scale investment, further built the film industry infrastructure in the region, and created significant opportunities for local talent. These projects include Universal Pictures’ Fast and Furious 7 and Disney’s Star Wars: Episode VII, as well as regional productions Al Ikhwa, Iftah Ya SimSimand ET Bil Arabi.”

Al Kaabi also noted that the UAE is represented at international film festivals through Dubai International Film Festival and Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival.

Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of Image Nation Abu Dhabi, added: “Now that Image Nation Abu Dhabi has become part of the Media Zone Authority, our efforts towards building the media sector can be more coordinated and effective. Image Nation’s combination of Hollywood film relationships and its local talent and production knowledge is uniquely valuable to this new phase of our industry.”

Image Nation Abu Dhabi invested AED 30 million towards local production last year. Over the next five years, the Media Zone Authority partner anticipates injecting over AED 400 million into the UAE economy through direct spending in the country on film and television production and jobs creation.

Local feature film production has hit a new stride with an impressive and aggressive slate.  From A to B, directed by Ali Mostafa and co-produced by twofour54 and Image Nation, topped iTunes charts across the Middle East last week and is set to be released theatrically in the UK and Italy this year. And Zinzana, helmed by Emirati first-time feature director Majid Al Ansari, is currently in post-production with a launch in the UAE planned later this year.

twofour54 upgraded  its post-production centre this month – the most advanced facility in the region with the latest editing, audio and colour correction capabilities.  This first one-stop-shop for post-production in the Capital will further enhance the industry ecosystem in Abu Dhabi.

Training and development programs continue to expand for Emirati and regional filmmakers.  In its fourth year, Arab Film Studio now includes both documentary and narrative programmes, and a new programme for Emirati high school students launches this summer at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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